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SRM University administration has completely let down its girl students by victim shaming and botching up the entire handling of a the incident of sexual harassment.
Trigger alert: Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming
With recent events of men masturbating at women in open public areas without fear, first the Delhi case and now this. It brings me to ask why female masturbation is such a taboo? My masturbation is for my pleasure, not to scare women off, or shame them. My masturbation is defiance of a society that stigmatises it, it is for my pleasure.
My masturbation is personal, social but NEVER criminal.
On 22 November, at SRM, A garbage man employed by the hostel management flashed himself at and masturbated in front of a 2nd year student. She was horrified, scared but immediately reported this matter to the reception.
Instead of caring for the girl and taking action, this girl was asked to shut up about the matter. The hostel management stringently forbade her from publicising the matter. Despite this being a criminal matter, the police was neither involved nor notified.
The hostel management when asked for answers, began a chain of dismaying victim blaming questions. She was told that this happened because she is a North Indian studying in a South Indian hostel. She was told it is because all girls smoke and drink in this hostel, hence the management cannot be asked to keep them safe.
The hostel management abjectly REFUSED to take the matter to police and asked the scared girl to write a written complaint instead. When the girls came out to protest, they were silenced repeatedly, their WiFi was cut off so that they don’t take matters into their own hands, and then the authorities sent a service tempo to “go get the guy” thus implying they were stronger than law itself.
The girls were then LOCKED inside their hostel, and rowdy unruly men with knives were called upon to threaten protestors.
The college official who was handling the situation blatantly lied to the crowd, asking them to proceed to the auditorium to “talk it out” but then locked himself inside his room so as to not respond to the plethora of questions raised by the obviously petrified women. No apology was issued to the women.
The news was being taken down from everywhere, with a threat to expulsion and strict action. Why? Because SRM cannot admit to the fact that it could neither protect the children it pledged to keep safe in the hostel, nor could it ameliorate the situation.
The Vice Chancellor went on and on for an hour about how the girl was at fault for not wearing full clothes, when the girls filmed this, the guards pulled away at their phones. He made a mockery of the event when he smirked at them and asked if they could prove it, even claimed the girl is lying. He also asked her not to make a huge deal out of it and go back to study.
The college authorities claim the perpetrator has been arrested, but how to make sure of that when the victim wasn’t even asked to identify him? How can the system let down a student so badly?
How can college authorities ask women to be back by curfew if they cannot even protect them in broad daylight? Why has the harassment of a victim become so blotched that it is not about her trauma but a matter of the college’s repute?
Is this how educational institutes want to handle issues of harassment now? By not fostering women but fostering rape culture? When a harassment issue comes up how dare you divert it, diminish the woman’s credibility, diminish her worth by making it her fault? How can you bring the issue of caste even in this? Who allowed you to make a farce of a woman’s suffering to save your ass?
A questioning probe also justified the whole event by the account of the perpetrator, that “he was confused operating the lift, and nothing else happened,” and the authorities even went on to suggest to the police that this was a ploy to get today’s exam postponed.
There was no due process followed. Abject spreading of lies, sexist nuances. Who do they think they are that they can go on locking the women down and cutting off their connections? How dare they? An apology is in order, to the girl, to all the other women that have been failed, and for this example that they have set that makes it look like it’s okay to have harassed someone.
Which brings me to ask another question. Why is it that our society has normalised this? Male masturbation cases come up ever so often that it is tough to find a woman in India who has never been flashed by a guy. Toxic Masculinity is to be blamed for the fact that men place their egos upon their penises and feel comfortable to stick it out wherever they feel like it. It is also to be blamed for the gratification that men receive with a woman in fear or in shame.
Shame to SRM University, hope that they make this right.
Appreciation to the sisters who in solidarity fought against the authorities and brought all this negligence to light.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: Twitter
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
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Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
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